Amazing Grace

Word Count: 2135 |

Amazing Grace is an amazing way of telling the rest of the world what it actually means to live in poverty. I am always complaining about what I need and do not have just like a lot of other people. After reading this book, I will be more likely to be gracious for what I do have and can do without having. This book not only told me about the people in the South Bronx’s lives, but it also abled me to visualize them. Jonathan Kozol has an extraordinary way of illustrating this story. The world knows of all of the problems that are out there such as guns, poverty, drugs, and violence. This book elaborates these issues and will hopefully open up society’s eyes to this horrible situation.
Amazing Grace deals with many social problems in the neighborhoods of the South Bronx. Jonathan Kozol spent many long, heart-throbbing hours with the underprivileged people that live there. Any problem that one can think of, the people in these areas have to face on a daily basis. The people that live there are mainly blacks and Hispanics.
The first issue that I want to address is how society lumps all of these people together in the one place. More than 3,000 homeless families have been relocated by the city to this neighborhood (11). A question that Jonathan Kozol is asked many times is, “Why do you want to put so many people with small children in a place with so much sickness?” (11)
Most of these people would like to have assistance, but are not given the chance. One woman stated (about charities), “If they want to help the poor, they
don’t need to have a party first. They could skip the party and just send the money up to feed the children who are hungry. Who is this charity for? In a way, it’s for themselves so they won’t feel ashamed going to church to pray on Christmas Eve. Maybe they think this way they won’t end up in Hell” (44). The welfare system is also working against these people. They are treated very poorly by social workers and welfare agents. These workers talk down to the poor and are very rude (41). The welfare system is totally sloppy. They take away people’s checks without any reason or for the wrong reasons. One woman was sent a letter stating that her check was being cut in half because her son had gotten married. The truth is, her son was not married and the welfare number and the total budget were both wrong too (204). It seems to be a hassle for these people to even live.
Another horrible issue that these people face is drugs. There are drug dealers and users on every corner, in the parks, in the housing, and in the schoolyards. The drugs range from marijuana to heroin to coke to crack (120). Small children see their parents shooting up and some even assist them with their addictions. Other children are learning to be “pushers” of these drugs. We know that clinics give out free birth control and condoms, but in the Bronx, they give out free needles weekly (12). Mothers stand in line with their children
waiting to trade in their old needles for clean ones (12). These parents could be standing in a food pantry line, but instead, they are teaching their children about what they have to look forward to. It is a demeaning thought, is it not? A
druglord, George Calderon, was cherished and even has his own memorial (60). How can people look up to a druglord?
The drug usage in the South Bronx also leads to prostitution. Most of the prostitutes are black and some are Hispanic (23). The age of these ladies ranges from 15 to 40 (23). These women hang out in clusters of 12 or more, some being completely naked (67). Many of their customers are truckers. The women will climb in, do what they have to do, get their money, leave to get a fix, and then go back to the streets. Jonathan asked a woman, “How many are addicted?” She said, “All of them are. you wouldn’t do that for three dollars otherwise “ (67). Along with the free needles, condoms are fortunately given out too (12).
However, no matter how many condoms are being given out, AIDS still exists very heavily in the South Bronx. Virtually every child there knows someone, a relative or neighbor, who has died of AIDS or is dying of AIDS. Rates of pediatric AIDS are very high (4). By the Spring of 1993, 1,381 women in the area and 3,428 men had been diagnosed with HIV. However, thousands more are probably carriers and do not know because they do not have a personal physician (194).
Killing people seems to be a very common pastime in the Bronx. Not a day had gone by that a gunshot was not heard. Children interviewed by Kozol
tell him about the people they have seen killed and they show no remorse. There are murders in the schoolyards, the parks, the projects, and in the streets.
The elder people have a fear of going outside, while the children see murder as a common and normal action. Unfortunately, these innocent children have been victims of the crossfires (5). Even the police are afraid to go to apartments when they are called because they fear that they will be shot (53).
There are only a few hospitals that the people in the Bronx are “allowed” to attend. These hospitals are referred to as “cesspools” and many have lost accreditation (15). One woman with AIDS had to wait for two days before she was admitted. She said, “…waiting in the waiting room… with all the other people who were waiting. Sick children vomiting up their food. Men with gunshot wounds. People with AIDS. Old people coughing up their blood” (16). Waste, among other things, are found in the floors (165). In one hospital, people of color are segregated on to other floors that have “overcrowded rooms” with “peeling paint” and “showers in the hallways” (176). A black woman snuck up to the “white” floor to see what she was missing, “had plants…. had pictures…. It was brighter. I can’t believe it’s the same hospital” (177). Even the women in prisons do not want to go to these hospitals because they feel that they would receive better care in prison than on the outside (146). A nun who works with female inmates wonders, “Is that what we do? Incarcerate people so they can get the services they need?” (147)
Not only do the people there have to worry about getting in to these hospitals, but they also have to think about the things that leave them. A waste
incinerator was put in the Bronx by the city and against parents’ pleas. It burns so-called “red-bag products” such as amputated limbs and fetal tissue, bedding, bandages, and syringes that are transported there from 14 New York City hospitals (7). A child refers to the incinerator as a “body burner” and tells of the sour smell that it produces (7). His mother said, “The waste incinerator is just one more lovely way of showing their (the city) affection” (10).
Many people from the Bronx have been in or to prison at Riker’s Island — “a 415 acre Alcatraz in the East River” where, says the Times, “92 percent of the captive population is black or Hispanic” — was erected largely on compacted trash and stands less than 1000 yards across the water from the Hunt’s Point Sewage Treatment Plant (142). The city spends $58,000 yearly on each adult inmate, $70,000 on each juvenile — nearly ten times what it spends to educate a child in public schools (142). One woman said, “The cost is justified in terms that go beyond financial calculations. Without this island, the attractive lives some of us lead in the nice section of New York would simply not be possible. If you want to get your outcasts out of sight, first you need a ghetto and then you need a prison to take pressure off the ghetto” (142). Only 23,000 black men
earned degrees from colleges or universities in the U.S. in 1990. In the same year, 2.3 million black men and black juveniles passed through the nation’s jail and prison systems (144).
The schooling in the South Bronx is awful. The schools are rundown, roach infested, and contain lead in the walls (155). Very few teachers are even
certified. In some schools, classes were taking place in settings like stair landings, bathrooms, and coat closets (155). Many children who attend these schools also suffer emotional and physical attrition. New York supposedly does not have the money for better schools for the poor children, yet they spent $150 million on Stuyvesant school, which contains mostly white kids (153). The children of the South Bronx have such low self-esteems, that when asked what he wanted to be, the smartest child in the class said a sanitation worker.
The housing in the South Bronx, which two thirds of them are owned by the City of New York, are squalid. The houses are freezing in the winter (4). Most people pray that they wake up the next morning. In humid Summer weather, roaches crawl on virtually every surface of the houses. Rats, bigger than cats, emerge from holes in bedroom walls, terrorizing infants in their cribs (5). Most of these buildings are old, deteriorating, and hazardous. There are bullet holes in elevators in apartment buildings and addicts shooting up in the hallways (51). An eight year old boy, who leaned up against an elevator door, died when it opened and he fell. A woman tells Kozol that, “The city is blaming
the family for letting an eight year old go in the hallway. But they got to go out somewhere, since the real outside is just too dangerous” (99). There was also a
reduction in the number of housing inspectors, who have the right to refuse to enter a building where their lives may be endangered, and may simply write “No access to building” on an inspection sheet (108). “It means that more kids are
goin’ to die. I just wish that when the paper talks about these “cuts”, they’d put some pictures in of all the children who got burned in fires or got killed in accidents, so that folks would understand what it’s about,” said one tenant (108). Could that little boy’s life been saved?
The one thing that grabbed my attention the most in this book was the children. They stand on those streets everyday going to school or playing and knowing that at any minute they could be shot and killed. It blows my mind that they know this and can actually comprehend it. They are so innocent and happy. They are only kids, yet they seem to be 30 years old. They have had to grow up so fast. It is unfair that their childhood has been stripped away because of meaningless acts of adults. They are so generous, too. They only eat at the mercy of perish, yet one starving boy gave half of his sandwich to a stray dog (85). One child prays, “God, don’t punish me because I’m black” (69). What kind of society are we?
Throughout the entire book, the people always refer to church or God. They hold very strong beliefs and hope that God will save them from the horrible
world that they live in. The children go to churches to play and for comfort. The older people go there to pray. An evangelist would sometimes go to the park to preach and the drugdealers there would even be quiet and listen (59). Religion
seems to be the only thing that these people can have that no one can take from them. I think this makes most of them stronger.
To answer the required questions, the only cultures addressed were poor blacks and Hispanics. They did not fit into social changes in America. While the rest of the world is advancing and evolving, the people in the South Bronx are at a standstill. They want help, but society will not put forth the effort. Instead, we try to ignore our problems. We try to paint a pretty picture, just like New York City did with its mural in buildings to make them look “sweeter” (31).
It seems like the situations discussed in this book should have been going on 100 years ago and not today. The segregation and prejudices are revolting to me. The poor are treated so badly. I do not know whether their color had anything to do with the way people treated them or not. However, I am white and I have never been so disrespected as these people were. Also, what kind of society are we that gives out needles to addicts? To me, that is saying “Go ahead. Drugs are okay”.
Many sociologists believe that being poor is hereditary. I disagree. I think that society makes people poor. Maybe they think if they clump all of theses people together, they will kill each other and the world will be a better place. I
believe that when society opens up their eyes and faces reality, then, maybe, it will be a better world.
This book taught me that people do not always choose where they want to live or be raised. It taught me to be thankful or a warm house, clothes, an
education, and for a foot in the right path. I think it is amazing that these people have such strong faith. From now on, I will not wonder why or how these people
live that way, but, instead, why doesn’t someone help them. They are no less of human beings because they are poor or of color. Many of them have bigger hearts and more ambition than most Americans will ever have.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

Allegory Of American Pie By Don Mc Lean

Ask anyone what was the defining moment in the rock history of the 1960s was and all you will get is a one word answer: Woodstock. The three day rock festival that defined an era was only one of many music festivals of the '60s. But Woodstock has come to symbolize, "an era of peaceful, free- loving, drug- taking hippie youth, carefree before harsher realities hit..." (Layman 40). The Woodstock festival ended a century filled with many metamorphoses of rock'n'roll, from the era of pop music to the rebirth of folk music to the invention of acid rock. But some cynics say that rock'n'roll died with the death of Buddy Holly before the 60s even began. One such person is Don McLean. The poet behind the haunting epic song about the death of 'danceable' music, McLean wrote the ever popular song, "American Pie" (appendix 1). The most important song in rock'n'roll history, "American Pie", is the song about the demise of rock'n'roll after Buddy Holly's death and the heathenism of rock that resulted. Although McLean himself won't reveal any symbolism in his songs, "American Pie" is one of the most analyzed pieces of literature in modern society. Although not all of its secrets have been revealed, many "scholars" of the sixties will agree that the mystery of this song is one of the reasons it has become so successful- everyone wants to know the meanings of its allegories. Proof of "American Pie's" truth lies in the allegory of the song. Many People enjoy the song but have no idea what it means- Who is the Jester? What is the levee? When the deeper story is found, the importance of the song is unearthed. "American Pie" is not only a song, it is an epic poem about the course of rock'n'roll...

Carl Orffs Philosophies In Music Education

While Carl Orff is a very seminal composer of the 20th century, his greatest success and influence has been in the field of Music Education. Born on July 10th in Munich, Germany in 1895, Orff refused to speak about his past almost as if he were ashamed of it. What we do know, however, is that Orff came from a Bavarian family who was very active in the German military. His father's regiment band would often play through some of the young Orff's first attempts at composing. Although Orff was adamant about the secrecy of his past, Moser's Musik Lexicon says that he studied in the Munich Academy of Music until 1914. Orff then served in the military in the first world war. After the war, he held various positions in the Mannheim and Darmstadt opera houses then returned home to Munich to further study music. In 1925, and for the rest of his life, Orff was the head of a department and co-founder of the Guenther School for gymnastics, music, and dance in Munich where he worked with musical beginners. This is where he developed his Music Education theories. In 1937, Orff's Carmina Burana premiered in Frankfurt, Germany. Needless to say, it was a great success. With the success of Carmina Burana, Orff orphaned all of his previous works except for Catulli Carmina and the En trata which were rewritten to be acceptable by Orff. One of Orff's most admired composers was Monteverdi. In fact, much of Orff's work was based on ancient material. Orff said: I am often asked why I nearly always select old material, fairy tales and legends for my stage works. I do not look upon them as old, but rather as valid material. The time element disappears, and only the spiritual power remains. My...

Johann Sebastian Bach Biography

Throughout the history of music, many great composers, theorists, and instrumentalists have left indelible marks and influences that people today look back on to admire and aspire to. No exception to this idiom is Johann Sebastian Bach, whose impact on music was unforgettable to say the least. People today look back to his writings and works to both learn and admire. He truly can be considered a music history great. Bach, who came from a family of over 53 musicians, was nothing short of a virtuosic instrumentalist as well as a masterful composer. Born in Eisenach, Germany, on March 21, 1685, he was the son of a masterful violinist, Johann Ambrosius Bach, who taught his son the basic skills for string playing. Along with this string playing, Bach began to play the organ which is the instrument he would later on be noted for in history. His instruction on the organ came from the player at Eisenach's most important church. He instructed the young boy rather rigorously until his skills surpassed anyone?s expectations for someone of such a young age. Bach suffered early trauma when his parents died in 1695. He went to go live with his older brother, Johann Christoph, who also was a professional organist at Ohrdruf. He continued his younger brother's education on that instrument, as well as introducing him to the harpsichord. The rigorous training on these instruments combined with Bach?s masterful skill paid off for him at an early age. After several years of studying with his older brother, he received a scholarship to study in Luneberg, Germany, which is located on the northern tip of the country. As a result, he left his brother?s tutelage and went to go and study there. The teenage years brought Bach to several parts of Germany where he...

Michelangelo

Michelangelo was pessimistic in his poetry and an optimist in his artwork. Michelangelo?s artwork consisted of paintings and sculptures that showed humanity in it?s natural state. Michelangelo?s poetry was pessimistic in his response to Strazzi even though he was complementing him. Michelangelo?s sculpture brought out his optimism. Michelangelo was optimistic in completing The Tomb of Pope Julius II and persevered through it?s many revisions trying to complete his vision. Sculpture was Michelangelo?s main goal and the love of his life. Since his art portrayed both optimism and pessimism, Michelangelo was in touch with his positive and negative sides, showing that he had a great and stable personality. Michelangelo?s artwork consisted of paintings and sculptures that showed humanity in it?s natural state. Michelangelo Buonarroti was called to Rome in 1505 by Pope Julius II to create for him a monumental tomb. We have no clear sense of what the tomb was to look like, since over the years it went through at least five conceptual revisions. The tomb was to have three levels; the bottom level was to have sculpted figures representing Victory and bond slaves. The second level was to have statues of Moses and Saint Paul as well as symbolic figures of the active and contemplative life- representative of the human striving for, and reception of, knowledge. The third level, it is assumed, was to have an effigy of the deceased pope. The tomb of Pope Julius II was never finished. What was finished of the tomb represents a twenty-year span of frustrating delays and revised schemes. Michelangelo had hardly begun work on the pope?s tomb when Julius commanded him to fresco the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to complete the work done in the previous century under Sixtus IV. The overall organization consists of four large triangles at...

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin Ireland on October 16, 1854. He is one of the most talented and most controversial writers of his time. He was well known for his wit, flamboyance, and creative genius and with his little dramatic training showing his natural talent for stage and theatre. He is termed a martyr by some and may be the first true self-publicist and was known for his style of dress and odd behavior. Wilde, 1882 His Father, William Wilde, was a highly accredited doctor and his mother, Jane Francesca Elgee, was a writer of revolutionary poems. Oscar had a brother William Charles Kingsbury along with his father's three illegitimate children, Henry, Emily, and Mary. His sister, Isola Emily Francesca died in 1867 at only ten years of age from a sudden fever, greatly affecting Oscar and his family. He kept a lock of her hair in an envelope and later wrote the poem 'Requiescat' in her memory. Oscar and his brother William both attended the Protora Royal School at Enniskillen. He had little in common with the other children. He disliked games and took more interest in flowers and sunsets. He was extremely passionate about anything that had to do with ancient Greece and with Classics. Wilde during school years In 1871, he was awarded a Royal School Scholarship to Trinity College in Dublin and received many awards and earned the highest honor the college offered to an undergraduate, the Foundation Scholarship. In 1874, he also won the College's Berkley Gold Medal for Greek and was awarded a Demyship to Magdalen College, Oxford. After graduating from Oxford, Oscar moved to London with his friend Frank Miles, a well-known portrait painter of the time. In 1878 his poem Ravenna was published, for which he won the...

The History Of Greek Theater

Theater and drama in Ancient Greece took form in about 5th century BCE, with the Sopocles, the great writer of tragedy. In his plays and those of the same genre, heroes and the ideals of life were depicted and glorified. It was believed that man should live for honor and fame, his action was courageous and glorious and his life would climax in a great and noble death. Originally, the hero's recognition was created by selfish behaviors and little thought of service to others. As the Greeks grew toward city-states and colonization, it became the destiny and ambition of the hero to gain honor by serving his city. The second major characteristic of the early Greek world was the supernatural. The two worlds were not separate, as the gods lived in the same world as the men, and they interfered in the men's lives as they chose to. It was the gods who sent suffering and evil to men. In the plays of Sophocles, the gods brought about the hero's downfall because of a tragic flaw in the character of the hero. In Greek tragedy, suffering brought knowledge of worldly matters and of the individual. Aristotle attempted to explain how an audience could observe tragic events and still have a pleasurable experience. Aristotle, by searching the works of writers of Greek tragedy, Aeschulus, Euripides and Sophocles (whose Oedipus Rex he considered the finest of all Greek tragedies), arrived at his definition of tragedy. This explanation has a profound influence for more than twenty centuries on those writing tragedies, most significantly Shakespeare. Aristotle's analysis of tragedy began with a description of the effect such a work had on the audience as a "catharsis" or purging of the emotions. He decided that catharsis was the purging of two specific emotions, pity and...

Scholarship Essay About Goals

Ever since I was a young kid I have always been interested with aircraft. I was so curious of how airplane's fly. I remember taking my toys apart to see how it works. As a kid I wanted to go to the airport to watch the airplanes land and fly and pondered how this happens. Other kids wanted to go to the amusement places. As I grew older I became more and more interested in aircraft and the technology behind it. I always involved myself with aviation early on. I read books and magazines on aviation, took museum tours, built model airplanes. When I was younger my father would take me to aircraft repair facilities where I would watch in great fascination. In my teens, went up to the military bases and befriended many soldiers involved with aircraft and asked them numerous questions. I got to meet many aeronautics engineers and borrowed their old textbooks and read them till the wee hours of the morning. As technology improved with information superhighway, I logged on the web. Stayed up for hours and hours searching through web pages and web pages of information about aircraft and technology. I started my elementary school in the Philippines, then we moved to U.S. and continued my high school education and graduated. Enrolled at the CCSF to pursue my college education and now I am in the 2nd year in CCSF taking aeronautics. My goal now is to obtain my AS degree from the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) so I can transfer to a University and get a Bachelors degree and to continue for my Masters degree in Aeronautics Engineering. I will strive hard to reach the peak level of my career which is a Professor and hopefully to be an aeronautic professor so...

Circus Circus Enterprises Case Studies

Executive Summary: Circus Circus Enterprises is a leader and will continue to be in the gaming industry. In recent years, they have seen a decline in profit and revenue; management tends to blame the decrease on continuing disruptions from remodeling, expansion, and increased competition. Consequently, Circus has reported decreases in its net income for 1997 and 1998 and management believes this trend will continue as competition heightens. Currently the company is involved in several joint ventures, its brand of casino entertainment has traditionally catered to the low rollers and family vacationers through its theme park. Circus should continue to expand its existing operations into new market segments. This shift will allow them to attract the up scale gambler. Overview Circus Circus Enterprises, Inc founded in 1974 is in the business of entertainment, with its core strength in casino gambling. The company?s asset base, operating cash flow, profit margin, multiple markets and customers, rank it as one of the gaming industry leaders. Partners William G. Bennett an aggressive cost cutter and William N. Pennington purchased Circus Circus in 1974 as a small and unprofitable casino. It went public in 1983, from 1993 to 1997; the average return on capital invested was 16.5%. Circus Circus operates several properties in Las Vegas, Reno, Laughlin, and one in Mississippi, as well as 50% ownership in three other casinos and a theme park. On January 31,1998 Circus reported net income of 89.9 million and revenues of 1.35 billion, this is a down from 100 million on 1.3 billion in 1997. Management sees this decline in revenue due to the rapid and extensive expansion and the increased competition that Circus is facing. Well established in the casino gaming industry the corporation has its focus in the entertainment business and has particularly a popular theme resort concept....

Effect Of Civil War On American Economy

The Economies of the North and South, 1861-1865 In 1861, a great war in American history began. It was a civil war between the north and south that was by no means civil. This war would have great repercussions upon the economy of this country and the states within it. The American Civil War began with secession, creating a divided union of sorts, and sparked an incredibly cataclysmic four years. Although the actual war began with secession, this was not the only driving force. The economy of the Southern states, the Confederacy, greatly if not entirely depended on the institution of slavery. The Confederacy was heavily reliant on agriculture, and they used the profits made from the sale of such raw materials to purchase finished goods to use and enjoy. Their major export was cotton, which thrived on the warm river deltas and could easily be shipped to major ocean ports from towns on the Mississippi and numerous river cities. Slavery was a key part of this, as slaves were the ones who harvested and planted the cotton. Being such an enormous unpaid work force, the profits made were extraordinarily high and the price for the unfinished goods drastically low in comparison; especially since he invention of the cotton gin in 1793 which made the work all that much easier and quicker. In contrast, the economical structure of the Northern states, the Union, was vastly dependent on industry. Slavery did not exist in most of the Union, as there was no demand for it due to the type of industrial development taking place. As the Union had a paid work force, the profits made were lower and the cost of the finished manufactured item higher. In turn, the Union used the profits and purchased raw materials to use. This cycle...

Evaluation Of The Effectiveness Of Trade Embargoes

Although I am a strong critic of the use and effectiveness of economic sanctions, such as trade embargoes, for the sake of this assignment, I will present both their theoretical advantages and their disadvantages based upon my research. Trade embargoes and blockades have traditionally been used to entice nations to alter their behavior or to punish them for certain behavior. The intentions behind these policies are generally noble, at least on the surface. However, these policies can have side effects. For example, FDR's blockade of raw materials against the Japanese in Manchuria in the 1930s arguably led to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which resulted in U.S. involvement in World War II. The decades-long embargo against Cuba not only did not lead to the topple of the communist regime there, but may have strengthened Castro's hold on the island and has created animosity toward the United States in Latin America and much suffering by the people of Cuba. Various studies have concluded that embargoes and other economic sanctions generally have not been effective from a utilitarian or policy perspective, yet these policies continue. Evaluation of the effectiveness of Trade Embargoes Strengths Trade embargoes and other sanctions can give the sender government the appearance of taking strong measures in response to a given situation without resorting to violence. Sanctions can be imposed in conjunction with other measures to achieve conflict prevention and mitigation goals. Sanctions may be ineffective: goals may be too elusive, the means too gentle, or cooperation from other countries insufficient. It is usually difficult to determine whether embargoes were an effective deterrent against future misdeeds: embargoes may contribute to a successful outcome, but can rarely achieve ambitious objectives alone. Some regimes are highly resistant to external pressures to reform. At the same time, trade sanctions may narrow the...